GWS star Stephen Coniglio has been rewarded for his loyalty to the Giants as he was announced the club’s first solo captain on Tuesday.
After a humiliating 89-point loss to Richmond in the 2019 AFL grand final, the Giants will take a fresh approach for the future with Coniglio to replace long-serving co-captains Phil Davis and Callan Ward.
Coniglio signed an important seven-year-deal with the Giants in August, rejecting rich offers from Hawthorn and Carlton to become a one-club player.
The 25-year-old has been vice-captain since 2017 and his appointment rounds off a succession plan for the Giants that was endorsed by Ward and Davis.
Davis and Ward, both 29, had been club captains since the Giants joined the league in 2012.
“It’s a start of a new era, a changing of the guard and an exciting day for Callan and I,” Davis said.
“It’s something we’ve spoken about since day one, that there was going to be a time where there was a chance to hand over to the next brigade and that time has come.
“Very proud, very humbled to have had the opportunity to lead such a great bunch of people. An amazing club to be a part of.
“I wish Stephen all the best. He’s a terrific person and he’s going to do some great things for us.”
The reins were handed over during an off-season dinner in the United States, where Davis and Ward told Coniglio he would be the club’s sole captain going forward.
“(They spoke) about how they loved their time as captains of this football club and they felt the time was right for a change and they wanted me to take over,” said Coniglio.
“Having that really special moment there and then to have it in front of the playing group and staff (on Monday) and see the reaction from my teammates and staff members was great for me.”
However, he is tasked with a huge mission for the Giants, who were thrashed by the Tigers in their first AFL grand final appearance in September.
Coniglio, who was sidelined with a knee injury for the painful loss, said not playing the decider has fuelled his motivation to bring the club success as a leader.
“The guys have come back in really good spirits. Richmond were just too good on the day,” he said.
“We know we’re building something really special. If we keep continuing and keep rocking up we’ll give ourselves the best chance the next time that happens.
“The fact that I didn’t play probably helps with that … (it) might help with the optimism and guys that maybe need a little help around that.
“For me, trying to get up for the game and then making the call not to play, and then seeing your teammates and close mates go down by so much and thinking, was it selfish that I actually didn’t play?
“There were a range of emotions, but it was a great experience and one that the next time we get back there, we’ll handle a lot better.”
© AAP 2019